Neighborhood Labs

The project »Neighborhood Labs« aims at both researching and supporting socio-material infrastructures on which urban communities can exist and operate on.

Our team develops tools, formats and processes in order to facilitate the building of Publics (Dewey) around issues, interests and problems that are of a wider relevance to a neighborhood. We argue that through collectively working for, around or against those issues, resilient and sustainable communities are likely to emerge.

The nucleus of this project is the Berlin neighborhood Fischerinsel, located in the very center of Berlin and characterized by high-rise apartment buildings. Historically a prestigious domestic area for GDR functionaries and the like, it has recently changed into an interesting mix of longtime inhabitants, elderly citizens, students and young families which inevitably creates some tension, which calls for individuals to actively engage in questions regarding their neighborhood.

This project questions whether design can help foster this engagement, support the few active citizens and activate more passive ones through breaking down communicative boundaries and delivering appropriate tools and methods.This is done in close collaboration with inhabitants of the neighborhood and through the participatory development of technology which aims at supporting the work already being done in the community and scaling the developed strategies in order to be useful for other communities around the globe.

One central aspect is the development of bridge-technologies between the Analog and the Digital, since the existing tools for political participation (e-participation, liquid democracy, etc.) all lack the active inclusion of digital strangers of any kind. These access points allow part-taking in a new technology without having to learn how to navigate in the web, without having to own a computer or needing access to broadband internet.

As of now the project is work-in-progress. If you would like to learn more about it, please check out the Community Infrastructuring Website or email us.

The Fischerinsel Kiez in Berlin-Mitte

The community of practice SeniorenComputerClub Berlin-Mitte

The Hybrid Letterbox


Neighborhood Labs

in: Agents of Alternatives (2015), p. 322-340, Fuad-Luke, Hirscher, Moebus (ed.)

Neighborhood Labs: Building urban Communities through Civic Engagement

Unteidig, Andreas; Sametinger, Florian; Schubert, Jennifer; Joost, Gesche (2013): Neighborhood Labs: Building urban Communities through Civic Engagement; Proceedings of the Participatory Innovation Conference 2013. Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lahti, Finland.

Neighborhood Labs – Community Building through Knowledge Transfer.

J. Schubert, F. Sametinger, A. Unteidig, V. Aumann, M. Schäth 2012. Neighborhood Labs – Community Building through Knowledge Transfer. In Proceedings of the DRS Conference, Bangkok, 2012